File picture: Kevin Sutherland/EPA
File picture: Kevin Sutherland/EPA

#Elections2019: Who really oils political machinery?

By Themba Sepotokele Time of article published Apr 14, 2019

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Now that the election is truly upon us, with street poles sagging under the weight of political party posters vying for our votes, it is time to revisit the thorny issue of political party funding.

With 48 political parties contesting the historic 2019 national and provincial elections, it’s quite interesting to notice that some new kids on the block are visible with billboards, banners and posters with their party leaders wearing their political regalia, while the old ones are still struggling even with posters.

With the May 8 elections looming, most political parties have splashed on political advertising while some are struggling even with basics such as T-shirts and posters.

Some have different posters with different messages to attract voters.

Driving around the streets of Soweto and Joburg, I have struggled to find the posters of the PAC or Azapo, yet newcomers such as the African Content Movement (ACM), Africa Transformation Movement (ATM) and Black First Land First (BFL) are competing and in some instance, surpassing even the likes of the UDM and Cope when it comes to political advertising and visibility - which is costly.

The PAC and Azapo are much older liberation movements while the UDM and Cope were born during the height of democracy and both their births were with much fanfair.

The two are today struggling with political brand visibility as opposed ACM, ATM and BLF.

The question of political party funding has therefore become more important than ever.

The top three parties in Parliament - the ANC, DA and the EFF - are visible almost everywhere.

The DA is splashing more on posters and banners and they are the most vocal party who were vehemently opposed to the Political Party Funding Bill, that seeks to regulate public and private support for political parties.

Early this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the bill into law.

The ANC and UDM welcomed it will open arms.

Although the law won’t affect this year’s elections, it sort of gives us a clear understanding why certain political parties expressed their opposition in signing it into law. According to the Independent Electoral Commission, political parties contesting the national elections have each forked R200000 and R45000 in respect of provincial legislatures.

It is incumbent for South Africans to know who is funding political parties. With Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s ACM having lost an urgent court application compelling the SABC to broadcast their party manifesto launch, and the court dismissing the application with costs, yet Azapo and the PAC are struggling with posters and T-shirts, a pertinent question which begs an answer is: where do political parties get their funding?

Where do they source money to print T-shirts, posters, banners, billboards, and to book and secure venues, as well as to organise transport?

Who keeps them going? Who is oiling their political machinery to splash so much on political advertising?

As an open and democratic country, South Africa requires openness and transparency, especially dealing with matters of national interest.

He who calls the tune, pays the piper.

This is so, much with political parties, especially with the mushrooming and proliferation of so many parties ahead of the elections.

* Sepotokele is a journalist, communication strategist and media trainer. He writes in his personal capacity

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Sunday Independent

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